Thursday, June 21, 2007

JINSA Report #676

Contrarians. We've been called that before. While much of the American Jewish community approves of President Bush and Prime Minister Olmert's decision to fund and support Abu Mazen as "the President of all the Palestinians," we are disappointed at many levels.

First, Abu Mazen may be the President of all the Palestinians, but he has/had a legislature ted by the freely elected Hamas. For the U.S. to now say that we accept the results of the Presidential election but not the result of the legislative election is poor policy.

Second, Abu Mazen did nothing to change the culture of corruption he actively helped Yasser Arafat develop during the Oslo years. How could the Palestinians be the world's largest per capita aid recipients - according to the Wall Street Journal, "the PA has so far received more foreign aid than all of Europe received under the Marshall Plan" - and still have 30 percent of its people dependent on food aid from outside ? For the U.S. to agree to provide more money with less control is poor policy.

Third, two American generals tried their hand at training Palestinian forces to protect themselves - if not to protect the people they were supposed to serve. We never liked the mission those generals were given, but we had assumed they wouldn't fail. They failed; utterly failed. The Fatah soldiers trained by American officers did not protect the civilians. They did not protect the institutions of the PA . They did not protect their wounded comrades, some of whom Hamas shot in their hospital beds while others were tossed out of buildings. The men our generals trained turned and ran ignominiously. For the U.S. to provide more arms with less control is poor policy.

, Abu Mazen at the height of his capability (and this is not it) was not a partner in the establishment of a two-state solution for Palestinians and Israelis. He was willing to discuss day-to-day security and economic policy for the territories, and believed ings were counterproductive to Palestinian goals (though not necessarily bad in and of themselves). At the same time, he was entirely committed to Arafat's three-point program: an independent Palestinian State with its borders undefined; Jerusalem as the capital; the so-called "right of return" of the original 1948 Palestinian refugees and their descendants to places inside Israel from which they claim to have come. If he couldn't accept the legitimacy of Israeli sovereignty then, for the U.S. to believe he can and will while under siege from people better trained, better armed and more ideologically committed than he, is poor policy.

Fifth, Abu Mazen has already indicated that he wants to talk to Hamas about the future. Since they won and he lost, it is safe to assume that Fatah will move toward the Hamas position rather than assume Hamas will move toward the Fatah position.

America has already lowered the bar of expectations of Fatah responsibility to the ground. As Fatah becomes more like Hamas in order to survive, the only way for the U.S. to lower the bar further would be to dig a hole. For the U.S. to begin digging is poor policy.

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